It’s another lovely day in the neighborhood… although the evil word SNOW has been mentioned on the weather reports! We have yet to see any and are thankful for mild fall weather.
Since the Lakota (Sioux) youth have begun second quarter, we recently held an awards ceremony for quarter one. The rewards for A and B honor rolls and perfect attendance are a certificate and a WalMart gift card. If a student is on the honor roll with perfect attendance next quarter, the award may increase in value! We also have a contest between age groups to see which class can achieve the highest GPA (Grade Point Average). The one with the highest average gets a pizza party and hangs the award plaque in their classroom.
We honored all veterans and those actively serving our country during Sunday Mass at Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel. THANK YOU just isn’t enough for their sacrifices.
Last Saturday, the Chamberlain Science Club hosted the 1st Annual Hot Chocolate 5K Walk/Run, and it began here on St. Joseph’s campus. It was a way to celebrate Native American Month and learn about the importance of exercise all year long. Sanford Hospital set up an informational booth and there were baked goodies and warm drinks for all those taking part.
Students are in the process of learning to sing two Christmas carols in the Lakota language — Silent Night and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Aside from what they are learning in class, singing songs is a nice way to keep developing the Lakota language skills of our students.
This week, St. Joseph’s is honored to welcome Mr. Lawrence Diggs, our current Artist in Residence. He is helping our students express themselves through poetry!
St. Joseph’s was honored to have one of our Native American Studies teachers, Allen, give a presentation on historical trauma in American Indian History to a college class at Dakota Wesleyan University. He shared how early boarding schools tried to negate Native American culture and heritage and ‘mold’ them into the white culture by cutting their hair and not letting them speak their native languages. He also spoke about high rates of unemployment, suicide and sexual assaults currently present on the reservations.
He also shared positive notes about how the reservations are working hard to combat suicides and offer resources to those who are struggling. Change will not happen overnight, but he is happy that steps are being taken to get things headed in the right direction and he is proud to be part of that process. Read more in the article that appeared in the Mitchell Daily Republic!
We hope you have a wonderful week. Say pilamaya – thank you – to a veteran and let them know you are grateful for their service to our country.
Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ
PS: The picture shows our tree of remembrance in Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel with the names of our Beloved Dead whom we are keeping in prayer this month.
What a weekend to be a child! Our students made the rounds trick-or-treating on campus Friday and then had the chance to dress up again on Halloween itself and make the rounds in Chamberlain. There were a wide variety of costumes and I had a hard time judging my favorites! The weather cooperated as well.
Several of the high school homes made the trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to take part in haunted houses and scary corn mazes. On Friday, the National Honor Society students sponsored a dance for the 7th and 8th graders from St. Joseph’s and the Chamberlain community. The price of admission was a non-perishable food item to be donated to the local food pantry.
St. Joseph’s National Honor Society has been busy helping local Special Olympics athletes during bowling practices and will be traveling with them this Friday to Aberdeen, South Dakota for the final bowling tournament of their season.
Each of our St. Joseph’s homes are asked to do some sort of outreach every year. The Ambrose Home (boys in grades 1-3) decided to go to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Fort Thompson and help pass out coffee and treats after the Mass. They enjoyed the fellowship, as did the parishioners!
As the year continues to roll by, new sports and activities commence for the Lakota students to enjoy. The girls’ basketball season opens this week as we host PILC (Pierre Indian Learning Center) and then travel to Crow Creek later in the week.
The intercity basketball program for 6th, 7th and 8th grade boys is also underway. St. Joseph’s students combine with Chamberlain area kids to learn the basics of basketball and get some experience on the court. Coaches from both St. Joseph’s and the Chamberlain school district are assisting.
Other activities for our Lakota (Sioux) youth include martial arts, wrestling, archery and swimming lessons. Several of our older students are practicing their skills in Lakota Hand Games. You might remember that our hand games team took first place at the annual Lakota Nation Invitational last year. They are practicing twice a week for this year’s competition. We’ll keep you informed about how they do this year!
At our Mass on All Saints Day at Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel, we had a tree at the front of the chapel decked out with red ribbons. These ribbons bear the names of family and friends who have passed away and are now walking the Red Road. It is our way of keeping them in prayer, asking the Great Spirit to have mercy on them and welcome them into the Heavenly Kingdom. We’ll have the tree up all month as we keep the dearly departed in mind.
Hope you’ll have a wonderful month and that you did not overdo it on any Halloween candy you gathered. May God’s blessings continue to be with you, and thank you for your ongoing support of St. Joseph’s Indian School.
As I was driving home from the Chamberlain High School football game last Friday, I noticed several of the local motels had ‘no vacancy’ signs lit. I couldn’t figure out why so many people were in town …and then it hit me—pheasants.
The South Dakota pheasant season opened Saturday at noon and the color of the day is now blaze orange. This is a very big source of income for the State of South Dakota and local guides. We offered a prayer at Sunday Mass asking the Great Spirit to keep all hunters safe.
Saturday evening, St. Joseph’s sponsored a concert by Mr. Shane Heilman of The Psalms Project at the Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel on St. Joseph’s campus. The Psalms Project is a group of forty musicians who are working to put all 150 Psalms to music with artistic excellence, Scriptural integrity, and cultural relevance—a marriage of King David’s vision with modern music.
Thus far, they have recorded the first 20 Psalms and are preparing to release their third album with Psalms 21-30. During the concert, Mr. Heilman talked about the project and explained the meaning of the Psalms he performed. Mr. Heilman also helped out with the music at our Sunday liturgy. To find out more about the project, you can visit their website, thepsalmsprojectband.com.
Last week saw the end of the football and volleyball seasons here on campus. There is no downtime, however, for the Lakota students at St. Joseph’s! Our girls and boys began basketball, martial arts, gymnastics and archery practices this week.
Our four German exchange students and their chaperone finished their visit to St. Joseph’s Indian School last week after attending a few days of school at Chamberlain High and then touring the Black Hills, the Badlands, Wall Drug and Mount Rushmore. They were also able to take part in a powwow in Rapid City on Native American Day (observed as Columbus Day elsewhere).
They ended their stay with a presentation to our high school students about their hometowns, their families, their hobbies, what sports they like and their favorite foods. Our students hosted a farewell party at the end of the presentation complete with a cake shaped like a piece of luggage. Our guests stopped in Chicago for a few days to visit the SCJ’s college program for our seminarians before heading home. The visit was enjoyed by all.
May each of you have a wonderful week as we see the beauty of nature continue to unfold with the changing of the leaves. May we be grateful for the beauty and continue to do our part in protecting Mother Earth. May God’s blessings be with you now and always.
We held two competitive events on campus yesterday. The first began at 11:30, when several of our staff squared off in our annual chili/non-chili cooking contest. Three recipes gained a ribbon and bragging rights, but everyone on campus was a winner when we got to sample many tasty efforts. I had 11:30 mass, and by the time I reached the tables at noon the early lunch crowd had polished off the top three pots. But the others I sampled were hearty on a cold day and quite delicious. Human resources pulled out some colorful piñatas and recorded fiesta music set a fun tone. We laughed about the Kleenex on the table for runny noses and the bottles of antacids for those who found the samples to hot. It gave staff from different areas on campus the chance to mingle in a way that doesn’t happen often enough.
Then at 1:00 the real drama began as the top six spellers in each grade (determined by an earlier competition in their classrooms) participated in the annual Spelling Bee. Fr. Anthony and I were the word givers, and alternated between the grades. Some words I was glad when the students asked for a definition, because that enlightened me too! A few of the matches ended quickly. When it got down to the final two in 7th and 8th grade the rounds went on a long time. When one of the students had a chance to win, it seemed they would miss the second word and give their opponent another chance. The winners now advance to the regional competition in Mitchell.
I was at the Hogebach Home (high school girls’ home) last evening when the phone rang. Trinity answered the phone and once she hung up, broke into Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” What happened? – because of dangerous cold and wind chill, Chamberlain Public schools called for a 2 hour late start. Almost every high school kid I know would rejoice with a couple extra hours to sleep in. How cold was it? When the William Home (4th-5th) grade girls walked home from the Rec Center after swimming, their hair was frozen in the time it took to walk 2 blocks.
Since our kids live on campus, and the snow isn’t deep enough to cause problems, we pressed on with our regular school day today. Recess was indoors. When we get a long stretch of cold I notice the students getting cabin fever, but our weather has had enough ups and downs that they haven’t had to stay inside for more than a couple of days.
We’re working on budgets and had to submit our list of planned capital expenses for fiscal year 2014. Because our staff have so many good ideas for improvements, our wish list is always quite long. Then we have to prioritize and decide what we can afford, what our facilities crew has time to get done, and what is most pressing, especially where safety and preventative maintenance are concerned. Our costliest projects will be the next phase of our campus drainage upgrade, and the tuck pointing of several of our large older brick buildings. Perhaps the ones I’m happiest to see are the remodeling of the last two homes on our list, Afra (1st-3rd girls) and Raphael (1st– 3rd boys). I know the houseparents who live with the children in those two homes have been envious of the improvements we’ve made to all the other homes, and excitedly await similar upgrades and improvements.
Hello and welcome back! I’m Cindy and I blogged in October about the many things that take place at the beginning of the school year. I like to think that it is the busiest time of the year but it has not slowed down at all!
We are just returning from Thanksgiving Break (where did the time go?) and the students are starting to look forward to Christmas (and break: hooray!) that will be coming up in a few weeks.
Most of our students were able to go home for the Thanksgiving Break. The day before Thanksgiving is a chaotic, but fun-filled day. The student’s guardians all come and pick them up at the school. The Dining Hall puts on a delicious lunch for them to enjoy. Many of them have been coming to St Joseph’s for many years and it is fun to catch up on their lives.
We do have a few students that stay on campus during this time. They are housed in what we refer to as the “break home.” Their time is filled with fun activities such as shopping, movies and games.
This year, the students and staff who stayed on campus were able to participate in the Thanksgiving dinner at St. James Catholic Church. This is a wonderful experience to have fellowship and visit with people from the surrounding areas. It is wonderful that the local people put this on in order to alleviate the loneliness that can be associated with this time of year.
I enjoy this time of year. As my family is grown, I still enjoy going to sports activities. The connection to my St. Joseph’s family is great as I now watch the St. Joseph’s girls play basketball. They are a lot of fun and I love to watch them play. This allows me to interact with the students outside of the school setting. I really enjoy visiting with the students the next day at school on their accomplishments during the game.
As we are preparing for the Christmas Season, two of our 6/7/8th grade girls homes will be featured in the local Parade of Homes this year. This is a local event when people decorate their homes and allow the community members to tour them. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to connect with the town of Chamberlain. The girls are giddy as they are enjoying decorating and getting ready for the tours. It is the first time that the homes have participated in the “Parade of Homes” showing off their home, their Christmas decorations, and spirit of the season.
We are also busy educating the students about Christmas during religion and Native American Studies classes. We celebrate the advent season in the school by having a ceremony every Monday morning. We try to get the students to realize that there is more to Christmas than just the presents under the tree.
I want to extend Christmas wishes to all our benefactors this Holiday Season. May your days be very joyful, fun-filled and blessed. Thank you for all the support you have given to St. Joseph’s throughout the years.
“Celebrate the feast of Christmas every day, even every moment in the interior temple of your spirit, remaining like a baby in the boson of the heavenly Father, where you will be reborn each moment in the Divine Word, Jesus Christ”—St. Paul of the Cross
Over Thanksgiving break, we only have three students on campus in the break home. Everyone else has gone home for Thanksgiving weekend to be with family and relatives. Many parents and guardians came to campus to pick up their children, and stayed for lunch. By the official 2:00 dismissal time, many of our students had started the journey home, since some live as many as five hours away. We were thankful for the sunshine and good weather that allowed for trouble-free travels.
The SCJs from the area parishes gathered at the SCJ house on St. Joseph’s campus today for an early Thanksgiving meal. They will be spread out for masses tomorrow, and this was a relaxing time to spend in fellowship, support and story telling. The offices and homes will be closed until Sunday afternoon.
Greetings friends of St. Joseph’s Indian School! I hope the Feast of All Souls Day finds you doing well!
Things here on St. Joseph’s campus are going well! It is hard to believe we have finished our first quarter of school and are already a couple of weeks into the second quarter. My, how times flies! The students are working hard to keep their grades up and do well in school.
Halloween was a great hit. Most of the kids dressed up in costumes and there were some great costumes! The students were able to trick-or-treat here on campus and then take part in a costume contest. Some of the homes also went into Chamberlain to trick-or-treat as well. All of the students I have talked to say they really enjoyed Halloween!
With Halloween past us now, the next big events on the campus of St. Joseph’s Indian School are girls basketball, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We haven’t seen much snow here yet, so I wonder if we will have a white Christmas this year!
Our girls’ basketball seasons kicks off on Monday, November 5. The girls are very excited to begin their season. The girls are working hard in practice and learning all they can in the short time they have before their games begin. Basketball season is always a busy time as all of the games take place between early November and Christmas Break. With as fast as this school year is going, both Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here before we know it!
As we move closer to Thanksgiving, I would like to thank each and every one of you for all of the support you give to St. Joseph’s Indian School. Please know that you are remembered in our prayers!
Our 36th annual powwow is in the books! I’m weary, but it’s the good kind of tired from a wonderful day.
As visitors streamed onto campus, they boarded our mini buses and were shuttled around campus for morning tours of Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel and four of the residential homes where the boys and girls live on St. Joseph’s campus. Houseparents prepared snacks for our guests, and students volunteered to give tours of the homes. The most enthusiastic were the 1st – 3rd grade girls of Afra Home, who at times led people by the hand, tugging them along to see the playroom or laundry and tell them about all they’ve already learned from life in the Home.
Our students were polite, respectful, excited and touched people’s hearts. Our ever-present blue-shirted St. Joseph’s staff members drew countless praise as they made folks feel welcome, answered questions and made sure people had directions to the places they needed to go next.
Dave, our powwow arena director, kept things moving along and made sure people were in the right place and time for ceremonies and competitions. Virgil, our PA announcer entertained with humorous banter, encouraged dancers and educated visitors with his explanations of what they were seeing on the powwow grounds.
Besides our own St. Joseph students, many young people came from surrounding areas. When 150 dancers processed in during the Grand Entry, the colorful spectacle was a beauty to behold. We had ten drum groups rotating the songs, including our St. Joseph’s student group – “the Chalk Hills Singers”
The last couple of years, weather for the powwow has been on the cool side. Today, the sun was out much of the day and temperatures climbed into the high 80’s. The energetic dancers certainly worked up a good sweat! Spectators coveted the shady spots and more than a few took a mid-day break in our air-conditioned Akta Lakota Museum.
At supper we served stew and fixings at the picnic pavilion, feeding over 900 guests, students and family members. After the judges’ points were totaled, we announced the award winning dancers and passed out prizes. As the sun set over the majestic Missouri River and people headed home with pictures and memories, our facilities crew was already tearing down and putting the football field back to it’s normal configuration. Next year’s powwow will be the weekend of September 21, so make your plans now to join us!
Last night we returned from donor appreciation luncheons in Boston, Massachusetts. Amber, one of our high school students, had never flown before and thought the experience awesome. She and Michelle spoke before 70 guests on Saturday and 60 guests on Sunday, telling about their time at St. Joseph’s and answering questions about life on St. Joseph’s campus and in their home communities. I admire our students’ ability to overcome their fear of speaking to a crowd, and realize that people are very interested in their story. Our donors asked many great questions to find out more about our school and programs.
One of our guests was a young Native American woman I knew from previous parish work. She didn’t attend St. Joseph’s but is Lakota and from our area. She just moved to Cambridge in July to start a graduate program at Harvard’s School of Education and Leadership. Meeting people like her gives a good example of hope that our students may one day follow.
One woman we met is a member of our Tiyospaye Club, and has faithfully donated $10 a month for many years. She said,
“I am on a fixed income and can only give a little, but your staff makes me feel so special. I wonder how you treat your large donors?”
I was heartened to hear her comments, since we do try to treat everyone with care and dignity. I realize that it’s folks like her who make small, sacrificial gifts that make such a difference in what we are able to do.
We haven’t had many famous donors over the years (though oral tradition here does say John Wayne and Elvis each sent us a little something years ago), but some folks do share a famous name. On Sunday I met one of our friends named James Brown, obviously not the Godfather of Soul who passed away a few years ago. James enthusiastically talked about coming out for our powwow. I encouraged him,
“And when you do, I want to see your best dance moves on the powwow grounds.”
“Of course – my name’s James Brown isn’t it?” he quipped back.
Does anyone in your family share a famous name??
After we arrived on Friday we bought our MTA passes and started exploring the city. One of my favorite folk songs my Uncle Mickey sang to us growing up was the Kingston Trio’s MTA, and I was tickled to see that the passes we bought to navigate the city were called “Charlie Cards.”
The students took in so many sights as we walked the Freedom Trail and toured historic old graveyards. We shopped for souvenirs at Quincy Market and pondered the speeches that once echoed in Faneuil Hall. We found a colorful Farmer’s Market and shared a bag of fresh cherries as we walked the harbor and gazed at tall ships, sailboats, ferries and tankers.
After the Saturday luncheons, we went to church at St. Francis Chapel, which is right in the middle of a busy mall – a new and unique experience for those of us from such a rural state. Then Theresa, one of our donors, treated us to tickets on the Ducks, the amphibious army vehicles that drove us along the streets and plunged us into the Charles River for all sorts of different views. The guide was lively and fun, with lots of banter and corny jokes. History can entertain as well as educate.
Getting a chance to boat onto the ocean was the one event on the top of Amber and Michelle’s dream list, so Sunday evening we joined a whale watch sponsored by the New England Aquarium. We saw both humpback and Minke whales, some within 50 yards of our ship. Michelle and Amber had a great spot on the front of the bow and delighted in the breeze whipping through their hair as we motored out to sea. We even saw one breech in the distance, where the whale came all the way out of the water. We had some great looks at some of God’s largest and most magnificent creatures.
Coming back onto campus today, I spent a good deal of time with the 3 M’s (meetings, mail and messages). But I did make it over to school at the end of the day.
The third graders are reading “Sarah Plain and Tall.” As part of vocabulary building and understanding, they were trying to learn about the Flounder and Sea Bass that she was casting for. When the teacher pulled up images from the internet on the smart board, I shared about the whales we had seen.
The third graders were amazed that something living (not like the dinosaurs of old) could still be as big as two classrooms. We also did a little geography lesson as they reviewed what states we had to cross to get to the East coast, and where the oceans are.
Junior high study hall students were working on reading and math. I quizzed students on vocabulary words, and encountered a couple of scientific words that I myself had never heard of, or have surely forgotten in those years since my classes on nuclei.
Sixteen of our 48 high school students hit the tutor’s office last night. One of the rules that students complain about the most is having to turn in their cell phones before they retired to their rooms. Now the rule is that they can keep their cell phones as long as their grades are good and they have fewer than three missing assignments. I overheard students say their goal is to keep the phone the whole year by staying on top of their work from the beginning, which was one reason for the rush to the learning center.
The high school students have the Rec Center to themselves from 8 – 9 p.m., and I joined in playing basketball. I don’t run or jump so well any more, and as I age I’m better at assists than as a scoring threat. But just to keep the defense honest I will drive and put up a shot every now and again. When I hit a layup one of the houseparents chided 6 foot 3 inch Cody,
“You should have swatted it away.”
“I’m not sure if I’m even allowed to do that” grinned Cody.
I think the younger crowd takes it a little easy on me. I worked up a good sweat and hopefully some camaraderie that builds trust with students down the road.
Greetings once again from the banks of the Missouri River at St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, SD. Fr. Steve is in transit coming back from a donor luncheon in the Boston area. He stated there was good attendance and when they were finished the team had a chance to do some whale watching.
Since he is away, I was asked to ghost write his blog. My name is Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ and I am the chaplain here at St. Joseph’s. I had the chance last year to help out when Fr. Steve was away and am happy to be in contact with you again.
The students and staff are starting to settle in as we begin the third week of school for grades 1-8 and second full week for our high school students who started on August 15th.
Several of our high school students are part of the Chamberlain High School Cub’s football team. They had their first game this past Friday night out in Hot Springs, in the Black Hills, and brought home a 7-0 victory. This Labor Day weekend, they will have their first home game against Valentine, Nebraska.
Football is in the air at St. Joesph’s just as many of the pro-teams are in the midst of their training camps. Practice is underway for the Chamberlain/St. Joseph’s youth tackle football fundamental league open to students in the 5th and 6th grades. The young people have some fun while learning the basics and it is a good way for all involved to make new friends. In early September flag football will get underway for those in grades 1-4. There will be footballs being thrown, kicked, fumbled and caught four nights out of the week.
This past Saturday morning, we saw 60+ young people from the local area around Chamberlain come to St. Joseph’s campus to take part in a youth triathlon. Those under six took part in a bike ride and run. The 7-15 age group swam, biked and ran around the campus. Many of our younger students took part in this event. St. Joseph’s is always honored to take part in events that strive to offer fun and safe activities for local young people and their families.
The new addition to the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center is making a lot of progress since the groundbreaking at last year’s powwow. (Reminder that this year’s powwow will be September 13-16. Hope you can come.) Most of the new structure’s exterior is done and the remainder of time needed to get it ready will take part inside as the new display area is worked on along with the section on the history of St. Joseph’s Indian School.
One benefactor came through this past weekend on her way to view the Powwow at Pine Ridge. She is coming back to visit St. Joseph’s and make a tour of our campus and facilities. She came all the way from New York state. The students welcomed her at our Sunday liturgy and then many of them and our staff thanked her for the items she brought. We are always grateful for your generosity and keep you in our prayers asking that God will continue to bless and strengthen you.
Hope all of you have a safe, relaxing and enjoyable Labor Day weekend.